26 September 2009

My cat, Sam.

This is Sam.

I became the proud owner of Sam in September of 1993, while enrolled at the University of North Texas in Denton. She was going to be tossed because she was the runt and the pet store owner would not take her. My roommate Katherine stashed her away in the Sunglass Hut, where she worked, until I was available to pick her up. When she came home with me, she was smaller than our cordless phone.

She used to ride around on my shoulder: to take the garbage out, to study at my desk, while sitting on the couch . . . She was so wild back then! She would crawl up anything (person or thing) that was standing still, just like a squirrel or a bear--using all four legs. She played soccer with milk jug tops, and fetched fan chains and twist ties--she still does! She has even spent time in kitty jail at the Humane Society in Franklin, Tennessee. She's kind of a bad-ass . . .

Sam has been my pet and friend now for 16 years. So, today, I wish her a very happy birthday!

To another 16!

Gallery Opening, October 1st.

En Remembrance Du Bleu

Now showing in Falvey Hall Gallery, in Brown--the big glass building--on MICA's campus.

Master of Arts in Community Arts, Class of 2010

25 September 2009

Baltimore City.

Why it's important for me to be here and why I love it so much . . .

Boys of Baraka


Raise it Up

John Waters

Billie Holiday

21 September 2009

Show Announcement.

Oatmeal Cookies: Steel-Cut-Style.

Can oatmeal cookies be made with organic steel cut oats?

There are at least two things I have learned from being an artist:
1. Everything is considered research: magazine reading, watching television, teaching, and cooking.
2. Experimentation is absolutely necessary.

So, in an effort to combine the two, this evening I made cookies.

Initially when I got home, I was exhausted. Teetering between taking a quick nap or just pushing through the tired, I decided to push through by making oatmeal cookies. Only I didn’t have any rolled oats, only the steel cut variety. What to do?

Make lemonade from lemons.

Here's the recipe:

OATMEAL COOKIES, using steel cut Irish oats
3/4 cup butter
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups steel cut Irish oats

In a fabulous big bowl, mix together all of the ingredients.

Drop rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 10 – 12 minutes, until edges are golden brown.

I just pulled the cookies out of the oven and they look delish!

Enjoy! YUM!

19 September 2009

Finished Helicopter #1.

Come and see!



In June 2009, we embarked upon our formal education in the field of community arts. Central to our own learning, we taught art-making with youth in eight sites across Baltimore city. Simultaneously, we began to define our processes as individual community artists.

Each of us crossed the threshold to explore our relationship within the context of community, mapping the interface by:

Identifying critical issues
Forming new relationships
Unpacking preconceptions
Communicating hope

This work reflects on the challenges we face with community related to education, youth development, racism, environmental concerns, public health and other issues of social justice. Together, we create a connective platform where we pose the metacognitive question: what is community art?

13 September 2009

My Studio Space.

On Thursday, September 10th, I moved my studio space from the Fox Building on Mount Royal over to the Studio Center at the corner of North and Howard. The Studio Center (aka The Bank Building) houses over 100 large studio spaces for a variety of MICA degree programs.

I share this space with Michelle Faulkner, a fellow MICA MACA student. Michelle is from Chicago and I love her!!

These two images show my side of the studio (Michelle has not officially moved in, yet). You can see my inspiration on the walls, and the remnants of my helicopter project on the floor.

I even brought my sewing machine into the space, which is really nice and very convenient. Now I have a dining table free of sewing supplies at my apartment!

You are welcome in my studio at any time. Please stop by for a visit!

11 September 2009

Poem: Eric Says

I know because Eric has told me
hundreds of time, that the students
living in and around these streets,
off Fayette, will come and go
as they please.

And who could blame them?

On a sultry, hot day in summer,
the pool, more amazing then any
un-air-conditioned room full
of art supplies, beckons.
Glistening under the sun,
filled with laughter and splashing.

That’s when the students
who might sit and create
at Banner Neighborhoods
look past me out the window
and begin to stir.

It’s hot, and they go silly
for coolness.
No art club can stop them.

Eric will admit, it starts
at home, but suddenly moves
to persuasive friends and the self.
When the creative activity is gone
and the classroom is empty
of anything but hours of planning
and monies wasted.

The students are
hungry, sometimes showing up
for snack alone.

Last week Tony brought a
whole posse of 8 – 10 kids
with him, banged on the door
at 445--class ending at 500--just as
we went about the classroom
attempting to discuss the day’s works
and fill bellies with animal crackers.

We all remember what it’s like,
the frenzy of childhood.
Summers when you could play outside
until the street lights came on;
secret clubs created, bikes piled on top
of one another on front steps.

I am competing with

Malik showed up every day
except 3 times. It was the
art-making and adult attention
that brought him to us.
The secret was making him
feel welcomed and needed.

Others seemed not to care,
trickling in on occasion.
With the weight of the world
on their shoulders. This bothers me,
but my hands are tied.
Eric says it’s always like this.

I am there to facilitate,
create an experience, a
vivid memorable
art-making occasion.

Lesson plans, snack time,
exemplars galore! My instinct
is to chuck all of that and
ask the kids about their life,
search out answers.

Instead I pretend, facilitate,
and build a wall.

07 September 2009

Poem: Seed.

I drive towards a cement neighborhood where shots sometimes fire in the dark.
Excitement laid out for me, another day planned
in East Baltimore. Against the hot pavement,
a weed pokes it’s head through the cracks, lime green.

Nature always wins. In Baltimore, I have seen trees growing
off of buildings. Right out of the brick and clear up to the sky.
How does this happen?
A seed gone astray in the wind, a bird dropped it from high above,
planting it unknowingly.
Are these my students?

Could this be a model, a sign?


Ordinary weeds, not so ordinary after all,
but extraordinary.
Shooting for the stars, strong willed and thirsty.


Never mind what people say.
Success is not far. Failure is not an option.
After all, nature always wins.

Photograph by Ken Krafchek

Fabric helicopter update.

Remember when I mentioned that I was doing creative research on helicopters?

Well, here's where I'm at!

I have built all of the elements of two helicopters (hoping for three by the 14th). They will hang from the ceiling in a birdlike formation. I want to make the propellers look like they are dancing in the air, strung up at different heights. The underbellies of the helicopters say "Make Believe".

These helicopters will be featured in a show at MICA that opens on September 25th.

Below is the green one, in process.

This is after the fabric has been cut and laid out. I have pinned all of the pieces inside out and they are ready to hit the sewing machine. Each helicopter has three propellers, three top pieces, two main pieces, one tail, and one "tongue".

This is picture of the three top pieces stuffed and attached to the top of the helicopter, right above where the propellers join together. More paint and accessories will be added later.

Stuffing the propellers.

Stitching up the propellers.

Here is the layout of how the items will look when put together, before paint and accessories.

Next up, added texture through paint! And, what will these things look like when they are hanging in the air?!!

Stay tuned!

Little bunny foo-foo.

Taking inspiration from the fall runways, I have started making bunny ears. My hope is to make a pair for each of my classmates. I think we should wear them during our critiques. They’re super-cute!

I'm just now figuring out how to attach them to a head wrap or band.

A trip down soy nut lane . . .

During my first grocery shopping trip in Baltimore City--a long two months ago--I picked up some SoyNut Butter to eat instead of peanut butter. But, when I made my first SNB-&-J sandwich to go in my lunch for school, it was no bueno. The soy nut butter was dry and hard to spread. And, it tasted weird. Not necessarily bad, just different--smoky. It had a smoky aftertaste. It was strange.

So I shelved the soy nut butter, thinking that I could use it in a recipe or two, finish it off, and go back to the regular peanut butter.

My first recipe of choice: peanut butter, er, soy nut butter cookies. Surely these will taste the same.

But, I was wrong. They tasted BETTER. These cookies were awesome!!

To start, I combined peanut butter cookie recipes from I Like You, Hospitality Under the Influence and Better Homes and Gardens, New Cook Book.

Then, upon realizing that I had no measuring spoons, I measured everything by eye. I cooked quite a bit over the past year before moving to Baltimore, so I had an idea what a tablespoon or a teaspoon looked like. But, I was a bit nervous. I like things exact, especially recipes. But, this was fun--different! Freeing.

So, armed with only mixing bowls and a single measuring cup, the following is how I came to bake and eat my very first soy nut butter cookies.

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup soy nut butter
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (or 1/4 cup honey)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
small bowl of sugar, for rolling dough

In a mixing bowl, beat margarine and soy nut butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add 1/2 cup of the flour, the sugars, egg, baking soda, baking powder, and vanilla. I used the same amount of soy nut butter as the asking amount of peanut butter. And, I mixed everything with my hands. No mixer, here, folks!

Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in additional sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Flatten by crisscrossing with the tines of a fork.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 7 - 9 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool and serve! YUM!!

01 September 2009

Links of interest . . .

"The objective is to create a safety net woven so tightly that children in the neighborhood just can’t slip through."
-- The New York Times

Inspiring and hopeful . . . Good work is being done!

Harlem Children's Zone

This American Life